An actual hornbill: in which we fail to find tigers

12 10 2015

Our elderly Australian fellow-traveller announced, as three of us moaned about our aching legs, that she is a masseur, fully trained in therapeutic massage. Before lunch one of us took advantage of her offer to treat us all to a calf massage, and the other followed suit after lunch. That woman has magic fingers. The effects were immediate and lasting; getting in and out of the jeep for our third safari of the day in Kaziranga National Park became manageable. (Our third walker got her massage before dinner.)

Having seen so much wild life in the morning, our jeep drivers decided that our afternoon safari would be dedicated to finding tigers. This meant we had a long drive along the road to the area where the tigers were known to be, and then spent the rest of the trip listening for warning calls, racing off in the indicated direction and then sitting waiting and watching the drivers scan the horizon and react excitedly to deer calls. We didn’t see any tigers, but they were apparently close by. It wasn’t a disappointment, and we still saw lots more birds and deer.

Towards the end of the safari it got quite dark and cold, and threatened to rain. At this point our jeep decided it had had enough and twice refused to start. Fortunately the problem turned out to be something that could be fixed by hitting the engine with a piece of wood, so we didn’t have to worry about too close encounters with tigers. It was at this point that the guide in the other jeep spotted a hornbill, symbol of Nagaland, and something we hadn’t seen before – perfectly timed to raise our spirits.

an actual hornbill

The storm didn’t arrive until we were safely tucked up in bed, but though the drive back to the hotel wasn’t wet it was cold and dusty and a big dupatta was needed for warmth and for protection from the dust and wind.


— words by Elizabeth
— pictures by Elizabeth
— more pictures in Assam & Nagaland album and Kaziranga album.

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